I love Japanese Haiku and ordered this book thinking I was getting a collection of Haiku. While there is no shortage of Haiku in the book, it is actually a travelogue that Matsuo Basho recorded through his companion secretary, Sora, about his travels across Japan on a spiritual journey.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is considered the greatest of the Japanese haiku poets. Zen Buddhism was a leading influence in the school of poetry he founded. According to the back of the book, these travel sketches are his bid to "discover a vision of eternity in nature and the ephemeral world about him."
Basho's poetry is beautiful. The imagery of nature it creates evokes a sense of peace. His elegant writing enables the reader to vicariously experience his observations as he wanders through forests, up mountains, visiting Buddhist shrines and friends.
For Josh, Buddhism touched upon the truth that the world is transitory and the desires of the world an illusion.
But when rockets were flying over his head in Afghanistan, Josh realized that Buddhism did not provide the answers looming death demands. He came to the conclusion that Christianity provides answers not only to the meaning of life, but hope after death.
If you are a priest as your black robe tells us, have mercy on us and help us to learn the great love of our Savior.
After a moment's thought Basho replies to them:
I am greatly touched by your words, but we have so many places to stop at on the way that we cannot help you.
After he leaves them, he thinks of a haiku and has Sora write it down.
And on he continues with his journey, leaving the child alone on the road.
I hope to collect more books on haiku. I can enjoy the poetry even if I can't accept the religion behind it.